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The Sports Feen's Dose

My dose of opinions on all things sports...and pro wrestling!

Top 5 Winners and Losers from NBA Free Agency

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

I kept warning everybody last year about the contracts that were about to be given out to free agents in the coming years but no one would listen. But even I was surprised at the outrageous contracts given to the lights of Timofey Mozgov, Solomon Hill, and such. I mentioned in my blogs last year that the Knicks got a great deal signing Robin Lopez to 4-year $52 million deal last summer and friends of mine thought I was a fool because he was barely a starter in their eyes let alone an All-Star to be making $13 million a year. One year later, they realized I was right. Several contracts signed last summer to Lopez, DeMarre Carroll, and Enes Kanter, to name a few, were done by teams knowing that they wouldn’t look like such an overpay in the coming years. But what we witness this summer was ludicrous.

While I’m all for players getting their money’s worth and the owners to pay up because it’s been unbalanced for many years, I’m hoping in the next CBA negotiations the players, teams, and owners find a common ground. The common ground needs to limit crazy spending and figure out a way where teams actually have an advantage in keeping their own free agents (a little too late for OKC, I know). They also need to increase the rookie contracts and might as well increase the salaries of D-League players too. But that’s the down the road.  For now, I have enjoyed the free agency frenzy thus far and can’t wait for next year’s as well, mainly because I feel my Knicks will truly to be position to lure a star player this year but more on that later. For now, here’s a list of five winners and losers of this year’s free agency.

Top 5 Winners and Losers from NBA Free Agency

*NOTE: These two lists are my opinion and my opinion only.

Losers

5. Miami Heat

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Heat because they lost Dwayne Wade, who’s 34 and probably wouldn’t be worth the max considering his fragile body but there something to be said for loyalty. Wade sacrificed money and leading role many times throughout his Heat tenure and was never the highest paid player on the team. He was only asking for two-year deal but above all else, they look like they’ll miss the playoffs and be better off rebuilding.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

They started the ridiculous contract trend with a bang by being the first team bid against themselves and hand out a 4-year $65 million dollar contract to Timofey Mozgov. But they didn’t stop there, a few days later they signed Luol Deng to a 4-year $72 million dollar deal. Even if the current market, these were overpays. I understand they needed some veterans to help their young players during their rebuild but it wasn’t necessary to sign them to four year deals. Since they’re rebuilding, they would’ve been better off signing Bismack Biyombo to play center instead. Also, why sign Deng when you’re first round draft pick (#2 overall) plays that position. The days of Hollywood enticing free agents are over. Luckily for them, they do have young pieces but I don’t think Russell Westbrook will doing any cartwheels next summer to join his home state team like many Lakers fans are hoping.

3. Dallas Mavericks

They started free agency hoping to lure the top available point guard (Mike Conley) and center (Hassan Whiteside) away from their respective teams only to have those teams keep their players by offering max deals. They also lost one of their own key players, Chandler Parsons, who himself got a max deal. They “rebounded” by re-signing a washed up Deron Williams (at least it’s for one year), traded for Andrew Bogut (and in turn helping Golden State clear space for Kevin Durant), and agreed to a max contract with Harrison Barnes. This seems to happen all the time with the Mavericks. They start with high hopes to end up signing players to just be good enough to make playoffs but not good enough to be contenders. At least, they did the right thing by giving Dirk Nowitzki one last big contract after all the years he sacrificed for the team, both physically and financially. Good for him. Maybe that will be a decent sales pitch for them in the future.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

They tried unsuccessful to get Durant to join them to create a “Big Four” with CP3, Blake, and Jordan and instead end up overpaying the coach’s son ($11 million a year allowance) and bringing back Jamal Crawford (nice guy, great bench player, but he’s 35). The Clippers fortune might only get worse next summer when both Griffin and Paul can exercise their player options to become free agents.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

They lost Kevin Durant to their conference rival and are likely to lose their current best player next summer because of it. There was no other choice for number one. (More on Durant to GS later).

Winners

5. Memphis Grizzlies

They were able to keep Mike Conley (owner of the largest contract in league history now) and added Chandler Parsons. Along with a healthy Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, I expect the Grizzlies to be the biggest threat to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the West because if there’s one way to beat the Warriors, it’s inside.

4. New York Knicks

Am I being a little biased? Sure, I am but hear me out. They have upgraded three of starting positions by adding Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah. Both Noah bring defensive presence and leadership needed for them to become contenders again. At first, Noah’s deal seemed like a slight overpay but now seems fair, ditto for Lee. Signing Brandon Jennings to one year deal for $5 million is tremendous value and fills a big need as a backup to Rose, whose injury history is well documented. They also brought over 2015 second round pick Willy Hernangomez to backup Noah and resigned Lance Thomas, a unhealded player who is versatile and is the type of glue guy every team needs. Most importantly, they kept their cap space for next season and making these moves will make them more attractive for free agents to consider joining next season.

3. Indiana Pacers

They did most of their work through trades before free agency adding Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young who are both great pieces (and great value contracts) in their quest to play smaller but the icing on the cake was adding Al Jefferson to a 3-year $30 million contract which is great value compared to what others received. Jefferson will be key come playoff time as a big man who can score. With Paul George back healthy and playing at an elite level, I see them as the second biggest threat to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East, the first being…

2. Boston Celtics

Their future already seemed promising with so much young talent and a bright young coach in Brad Stevens. They seemed in position to make a big draft night deal but didn’t. Durant considered them for a bit but ultimately said no. But Boston did add the second biggest free agent, Al Horford. Horford is an underrated defender and is joining a great defensive team but it’s his scoring that is needed. In the playoffs, it seemed like Isiah Thomas was the only one who could score for them but now he has help. Boston looks ready to make a leap and has tremendous upside going forward. If the Thunder decide to deal Russell Westbrook, Boston seems a logical spot because they have so many young pieces and other assets.

1. Golden State Warriors

I don’t like Durant’s decision but this isn’t a blog about my opinion in regards to his decision. The Warriors have made the Finals back to back years and now with the addition of Kevin Durant, they should be making several more Finals appearances going forward. Financially, Durant actually left some money on the table by leaving OKC. The Warriors basically swapped Harrison Barnes for Durant and while they’ll lose a great defensive presence in Bogut, they’ve added some quality big men in David West and Zaza Pachulia on short cheap deals. Expect more veterans to jump on the wagon as well as they did with the Miami Heat years ago (I’m talking about you Ray Allen!). The pressure is definitely on Durant and the Warriors to deliver now but there’s no question who the number one winner of free agency was. 

UFC 200 Preview and Predictions

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali


We were a mere three days away from one of the biggest pay-per-views in fighting history and my excitement level couldn’t have been higher and then around might midnight (EST), I had SportsCenter on in the background and I see the disheartening news that Jon Jones had been suspended for testing positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample taken June 16 by USADA. We still don’t know yet what that substance is but Jones had recently claimed that he’s been 10 months sober so this news was disappointing to say the least.

While the card is still stacked from top to bottom, there is no doubt that Jones left the UFC in tough spot and cost many a lot of money, especially Daniel Cormier. If you saw the press conference last night, you saw how distraught Cormier was. When Cormier won the UFC title last year, he asked for Jones to “get his sh*t together” so that they can have their rematch with both of them at their absolute best. So now that’s two main events the UFC has lost due to unfortunate circumstances and while the UFC may potentially find an opponent for Cormier, UFC 200 will be remembered by many as the “What if” card and Cormier might get to find out if he could've beaten Jones at 100% and be considered the best light heavyweight in the world.

The new main event is now three-round (exception made here as main events are usually five rounds even if it’s a non-title fight) heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt. I started watching MMA the moment co-headliner of UFC 200 Brock Lesnar started fighting in the octagon. I will admit I am pro wrestling fan first and foremost but I won’t deny that my love for MMA has grown immensely over the years. I watch all the pay-per-views and catch most the “UFC Fight Night” events even if I don’t catch it live, I’ll still watch it eventually thanks to my DVR. My love for the UFC has grown with the growth of the sport. I’m not only entertained by the fights but also with the interviews, the documentary-style shows that hype up the fights, the weigh-ins, the press conferences, all of it. Basically, the UFC does pro wrestling better than any wrestling company and I love them for it.

As I look at the card, some of my favorite fighters are on the card; the aforementioned, Lesnar, Diego Sanchez, Johny Hendricks, and Miesha Tate. With Conor McGregor faking retirement and Jones suspended, the late addition of Lesnar has become the UFC’s saving grace. Will UFC 200 break the UFC’s record for most pay-per-view buys? Probably not anymore but even if it doesn’t, I still believe we’ll get our money’s worth because this card is stacked featuring two (not three) title fights and we should be in for an entertaining night of fights.

UFC 200 Preview and Predictions

Quick Prelims Predictions:

Takanori Gomi over Jim Miller:  What better to start the night than these two who always put exciting fights and despite being the opening act, should challenge for “Fight of the Night” honors (probably say that a few times).

Gegard Mousasi over Thiago Santos: Santos is on a four-fight win streak but a win for Mousasi puts him in position to enter the top 5 in the Middleweight division and potentially a title fight next year with a win streak of his own.

Diego Sanchez over Joe Lauzon: Same thing I said earlier about Gomi/Miller applies here. I expect nothing but craziness and being biased here and picking Diego to pick up the win in hopefully a three round thriller.

Sage Northcutt over Enrique Marin: The UFC’s new golden boy looks like he has a “gimme” matchup here but that’s what people said vs Barberena who made him tap out. Needs to rebound and I think he will as the UFC has high hopes for him and I don’t believe they would showcase on this show to look bad again.

Raphael Assunção over TJ Dillashaw: Dillashaw just lost the Bantamweight title to Dominick Cruz and is looking to avenge his loss to Assunção three years ago; however, I think Assunção wins and become Cruz’s next challenge for the belt.

Johny Hendricks over Kelvin Gastelum: Kendricks has had problems with weight cuts and is in a slump. Looked real bad against Stephen Thompson so he needs this win big time to get back in the hunt. A win here probably puts in line to fight the winner of Condit/Maia to get the next shot following Thompson.

Julianna Peña over Cat Zingano: Zingano hasn’t fought since losing in the championship fight against Rousey but has wins over both competitors in the Women’s Bantamweight title fight, however, Peña is looking to make a name for herself and climb up the ranks in the division and what better way than to defeat Zingano.

Heavyweight Bout

Cain Velasquez vs Travis Browne

Cain can’t seem to shake off the injury bug which is the only reason he isn’t headlining this pay-per-view as Heavyweight champion. This will be his second fight in the last three years and it comes against Browne, who I thought a few years ago would be a Heavyweight title contender but hasn’t reached that level just yet. However, a big win over Velasquez could catapult Brown into title contention but I just don’t see that happening. The winner of the Miocic/Overeem fight in September will just be keeping the belt warm for Velasquez.

Prediction: Velasquez by first round TKO (by ground and pound)

Interim Featherweight Title Fight

Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar

Aldo hadn’t lost a fight in ten years and was considered by many the best pound for pound fighter in the world and in just 13 seconds everything was taken away. Aldo wanted the rematch with McGregor but McGregor had other plans and for the moment has relinquished the Featherweight belt to fight in other weight classes. Aldo’s legacy won’t be tarnished by his defeat to McGregor but he could use a big win but it won’t come easy versus Edgar, whose last defeat was against Aldo almost three years ago to this date. Edgar has gotten big wins over Swanson, Faber, and Mendes and seems primed to become the champion at 145. This should be a close fight and to me it’s a toss-up…

Prediction: AND NEW INTERIM CHAMPION...JOSE ALDO! (by split decision)

**Update:  Anderson Silva has replaced Jon Jones on the card.

Light Heavyweight Bout (Non-Title Fight - Three Rounds)

Anderson Silva vs Daniel Cormier (LHW Champion)

Silva is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time but his victory came against Stephen Bonnar in 2012 and only fought four times since, losing three of those fights and having one decision get overturned due to suspension. With that being said, the UFC had to salvage the event somehow after Jones was taken off the card and you got to be happy for Cormier who deserved the pay day that came with fighting at UFC 200. This matchup feels lopsided with Silva fighting in another weight class on short notice and Cormier having looked strong since his defeat to Jones. Silva has nothing to lose but a victory for him potentially gets him a shot at avenging his loss to Bisping and challenging for the middleweight title if Bisping retains the belt (it’s looking like Dan Henderson will be his first title defense). For Cormier, a win over Silva should be a nice feather in his cap but we all know he was dying to prove to the world that he was a better fighter than Jones and he won’t get that chance. This fight will be a non-title fight and three rounds and at this point all we can hope for is an entertaining fight.

Prediction: Cormier by unanimous decision

Women’s Bantamwieight Title Fight

Miesha Tate (Champion) vs Amanda Nunes

**Update:  This fight is now the main event of UFC 200

Tate is one tough cookie (or “cupcake” as she’s known by) and she deserves to be on this card after her amazing comeback versus Holms to become the champion. Everyone assumed Rousey would be back in time to reclaim her title but she’s still away. If not, Rousey then a rematch with Holm made sense, right? Well, apparently the UFC didn’t think so and instead went with Nunes, the Brazilian who could put a wrench into the UFC’s plans for big money making Women’s title fights for later this year. This could go either way but I expect Tate to win setting up the rematch versus Holm later this year at MSG with Rousey waiting in the wings.

Prediction: AND STILL…Tate by unanimous decision

Main Event: Heavyweight Bout

Brock Lesnar (WWE) vs Mark Hunt (UFC)

**Update:  This fight is back to being the co-main event

he very reason why I began to watch UFC was because of Brock Lesnar and the very reason I continue to do is because of men like Mark Hunt. While Hunt is basically a .500 fighter, he always put some of the best Heavyweights fights you’ll ever see, none better than the one against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva that ended in a draw. While Hunt is the favorite, Lesnar is no underdog. He is what Paul Heyman says he is, a “beast.” Hunt has walk-off KO power and Lesnar doesn’t have a strong chin, however, Lesnar has something to prove. I don’t think he would’ve come back to the UFC to embarrass himself. His short-lived UFC career ended badly with back to back losses to Velasquez and Overeem but he wasn’t 100% at the time due to a life-threatening disease, diverticulitis. Hunt is in for his biggest payday and I’m sure he will do his best to end this fight quickly by trying to KO Lesnar but I think it’ll backfire and Lesnar will be able to take him to the ground and pick up the “upset” victory over Hunt. The question then becomes: does he stay? Apparently, the UFC will allow Lesnar to come out to his WWE entrance song so there seems to be some kind of working relationship between the two companies so I wouldn’t rule it out but for now we’ll just get to enjoy for the first time ever, a WWE wrestler in the UFC octagon, who would’ve ever thought we’d see the day?

Prediction: Lesnar by first round TKO (ground and pound)

Enjoy UFC 200 everyone!

Thoughts on Hating LeBron, Possible Reyes/Mets Reunion, Roman Reigns’ Suspension, and CM Punk’s UFC Debut

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoughts on Hating LeBron, Possible Reyes/Mets Reunion, Roman Reigns’ Suspension, and CM Punk’s UFC Debut

Hating on LeBron

I never considered myself to be a hater of LeBron James but I wasn’t a fan of his either.  I respect his game and talent immensely but have never been fond of him for three reasons:  switching teams, his flopping (and being so animated towards refs without getting a tech), and most importantly, his fans (aka his “Stans”).  I have many friends who are fans of LeBron who tell me to get over the fact that he didn’t join the Knicks in the summer of 2010 but that’s not where my “hate” stems from.  I don’t hold any ill will towards LeBron for not coming to NY but I did (key word 'did') because he joined up with Dwayne Wade, who at that time (and prior to injuries) I considered as great as LeBron.  It just seemed like he was taking the easy way out.  He played just seven seasons at the point and people (AKA his "Stans") make it seem like he was wasting his whole career in a hopeless situation as if he wasn’t supported by really good players before his departure.  Sure, his talent made them better players but he wasn’t exactly playing with scrubs either.  But that’s what his fans do, they try and downplay his supporting casts to try and build him up to be even greater than he is (and he is GREAT, all-time GREAT maybe top 5 all-time GREAT but just not JORDAN GREAT) but again I’ll never respect the “decision.”  And then after winning 2 rings in Miami, he returns to Cleveland but let’s be real, Cleveland was already building a solid foundation before his return and he saw it as another opportunity to move on to a better situation going forward (basically he saw Kyrie Irving as a better bet as a side-kick than an aging/fragile Wade).

With all that being said, you can’t argue with his production, his success, and now his three championships, his most recent one being his greatest accomplishment to date.  He was the Finals MVP and simply played on another level.  Critics will say that Irving was the closer for them and LeBron wasn’t but if you don’t know by now that it's not his style and that’s okay.  I’ve only made the comparison to Jordan because others would bring it up but if you take that away and just look at LeBron for the great player that he is, what’s there to hate about?  I’ll continue to say that Jordan is greater because that’s my personal opinion and as I did with my seven blog series last year, I went out my way to point out their numbers at their absolute peak and given one game to win, I’ll take Jordan on my team than LeBron, which is no slight to LeBron at all.  That’s just my personal opinion and preference.  The fact that there is a conversation at all says a lot about LeBron who is still building his case.

In closing, I never liked Jordan while he was playing either.  He killed my favorite teams, the New York Knicks who only sniffed the Finals because he decided to play baseball.  I never truly liked Kobe Bryant either.  It’s not “hate,” though.  It has more to do with rooting for underdogs.  And no matter how much more talented teams might be, any team that has LeBron James on it will always be the favorite because when you’re the best in the world you are never an underdog, I don't care what Vegas says.  So it’s the same deal with LeBron.  Nothing to do with choosing MIA over NY, it’s just how I am as a fan.  And let’s not forget to mention, the flopping and theatrics towards the refs.  You’re 6’8 and 260 pounds, no need to be flopping or crying about calls.  And yes I know MJ and Kobe did the same, and like I said, never liked it when they did it either despite respecting their game.  Again, there is nothing wrong with rooting against LeBron but “hating” on him, that’s a different story.  Personally, his recent postseason made me respect him more, made me even like him a bit (especially because he’s been rocking wrestling T-shirts *shout to Kevin Love too*) but there’s no way that I’ll root for him. Sorry, but that's just something as a real Knicks fan that I just can’t do.

Jose Reyes-Mets Possible Reunion

I originally was against this move from the moment it was announced that the Colorado Rockies would release Jose Reyes.  However, the way the Mets have struggled lately offensively has made me more open to a reunion but with tempered expectations.  Reyes is a shell of his former self.  He doesn’t have the same range on defense or speed on the base paths.   At the same time, the Mets have NO speed on team whatsoever and he would help there. He’s played shortstop his whole career and some second base but the best possible position for him to get playing time would be at third base, which is ironic considering he would be taking over his good friend David Wright’s position.  A few reasons to like this move if it happens would be that it would be low-cost, low-risk high-reward (on the field), and Reyes is known to have an energetic personality which could ignite the team and give it a spark which it needs.  At the time, I don't want him to be a starter going forward, rather I prefer him a super-utility infield and late-inning pinch runner.  If he's willing to accept that role, then I'm all for signing him (which seem inevitable at this point according to reports).  With that being said, I hope the word is true that Reyes will finally address his domestic violence incident from last year.  Better to address it than to ignore it.  I understand why some people would be upset if we sign him given his off-field issue but I am not the moral police and I can't act like I know exactly happened between him and wife. Not condoning what he did but we don’t know what led to that incident but if his wife forgave him then maybe we can too if he owns up to it, of course.

Roman Reigns’ Suspension

Am I surprised?  No, I’m not but that’s because as a fan of sports you become numb to finding out your favorite athletes are using drugs to help them perform at a higher level.  Am I curious to find out what caused Reigns to get suspended?  Of course I am.  I would like to think it wasn’t any PEDs and I’m willing to guess it was probably some sort of pain killers he was taking considering that he’s one of the top stars of the WWE and has been for the past several years which means traveling a lot and bumping all over the world (no pun intended).  News came out that the WWE found out about Roman’s failed test prior to the last PPV which lead them to switch the world title to Seth Rollins (who beat him cleanly which was a shocker to me) and then to his boy, Dean Ambrose.  The next night they announced the main event for the next PPV will be a triple threat between the three former members of the Shield, which conveniently takes place a few days after Roman’s suspension is over.  It will curious to see how strongly the WWE books Roman as he’s long been considered their “next John Cena” but as we saw with Randy Orton (the biggest name to be suspended prior to Reigns), he could end up being a top guy but ironically, not “The Guy” anymore.

CM Punk’s To Debut at UFC203

I briefly spoke about CM Punk’s upcoming UFC debut on Jim Wrestle’s “Choked Out Radio” podcast last week:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/chokedoutradiolive/2016/06/16/choked-out-radio-live-returns-this-wednesday-615-at-9pm

Basically I said, I don’t have high expectations for Punk’s first fight or for his career in UFC period.  As an MMA fighter, Punk is green as goose sh*t (a wrestling saying) still.   His announced his signing to UFC at the end of 2014 and he’s had several setbacks injury wise which I’m sure hasn’t helped. However, there have been reports that he hasn’t held up too well in sparring match ups while training which to me doesn’t even matter.  At the end of the day, I’m a professional wrestling fan first and I became a fan of the UFC because of Brock Lesnar (who I also spoke about on the podcast) and I’ll be anxious to see Punk in the octagon.  His opponent will be Mickey Gall who’s 24 years old and holds a professional MMA record of 2 and 0.  Not exactly lighting the world on fire but at the same time, I’m sure he’s been training MMA a lot longer than Punk has.  While I admire pro wrestlers for being tough, the octagon is a different animal and I don’t expect Punk to have a successful UFC debut or career.  Lesnar had an amateur wrestling background prior to WWE/UFC and is just a physical beast.  So I’ll be watching in September to see what happens because whether Punk somehow wins or loses by knock out, the winners at the end will us, the fans.

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